A few “getting settled’ hiccups…Then, wonderful!

Although far and few between, we stopped at a few scenic overlooks in the rain.

We’ve decided to get the negatives out of the way first before tackling all the many wonderful aspect of our new location in the countryside close to New Plymouth, New Zealand:

No wifi: This is a “biggie” for us, a prerequisite that determines whether we’ll select a vacation home or not.  When the owner explained via email on several occasions there would be a good signal working when we arrived, we were surprised when we couldn’t get online to notify our family of our safe arrival. 
They’d ordered a new satellite dish for this house during the holiday season and service has yet to be installed.  They offered us their house and service until its installed in the next 10 days.

As we drove away from Auckland, NZ, we spotted this airport with older style planes.

This won’t work for us when as multi taskers we like to get up and down during the time we’re online getting coffee, iced tea, chopping and dicing for dinner, doing laundry and other household tasks.  Sitting in a chair online for hours at a time isn’t likely for either of us.

This morning I prepared part of this post offline uploading it when we returned in the afternoon after a trip to town to purchase a New Zealand hot spot along with a very pricey data plan.  Once the house has working wifi, we’ll use our device for extra large downloads and the house wifi for general daily use.

Auckland is a major port in NZ.

Sandflies:  Wearing shorts when we arrived I fell prey to more than 20 sandfly bites on my bare lower legs while checking out the amazing alpacas and standing outdoors talking to the owners who’s house is down the road (not visible from our house). 

Sandflies produce wildly itching welts often lasting for five or six days which are particularly annoying at night.  Last night, the itching kept me awake most of the night.  Today, we purchased more repellent. Tom hasn’t received one bite when the sandflies were having more fun feasting on me (as always).

By 10:30 am we were on our way toward Hamilton, NZ which wasn’t quite the halfway point to New Plymouth.

No screens on any of the windows (or ceiling or stand fans):  We don’t quite understand why houses all over the world don’t have screens when insects are flocking around doors and window in hopes of entering indoors to feast off its residents.  Its summer in New Zealand and although it doesn’t get very hot, fresh air is something we both appreciate.  On a hotter day, a breeze is welcme both during the day and at night.  We’ll ask the owner for a fan for the bedroom once we’re back online, something we’ve had in every home we’ve rented throughout the world.

That’s it, folks, all the negatives.  The rest?  Astounding!

We stopped for a break at a park in a small town to find this view.

At this point, we won’t get into the alpacas, saving that for a future post.   Its raining off and on today making it challenging to get good photos.  All I can say, it that we love being in this hilly, lush green, flowery farm community, living on an alpaca farm in a beautiful two bedroom, two story house with every amenity one could desire except for the above lack of screens and wifi.

We’d heard the North Island wasn’t scenic compared to the South Island but we found the countryside breathtaking with its lush green rolling hills and fields of sheep and cattle, dotting the scenery.

As for yesterday’s arrival, disembarking the ship was relatively easy.  The port of Auckland was organized and efficient.  From the time we went through security and picked up our confiscated power strip we were able to collect our bags using a trolley (most ports don’t have trolleys for bags) to make our way to the taxi line where we waited for over 40 minutes for a ride to the car rental facility.  Happy to have a trolley, we didn’t mind the wait.

We’d hoped for sunshine but as typical in the South Pacific, skies are unpredictable.

Once in the taxi was loaded with our stuff, the longish ride was enhanced by a wonderful driver from India with a strong New Zealand accent with whom we chatted during the entire 45 minute ride.  The taxi fare was US $63,50, NZ $92 (with tip).

On many occasions we were slowed down for long stretches due to narrow roads, no passing lanes and slower moving trucks.

Once we arrived at Ace Rental Cars near the airport, we encountered yet another delightful service person, a young man from South Africa (again with a strong NZ accent) and we exchanged hysterical Afrikaans expressions we’d learned from Okee Dokee while we lived in SA two years ago.  We never expected picking up a rental could be so much fun!

Happy with our older (5 years) white Nissan that says something in Japanese each time we enter, we soon were on our way for the five plus hour drive through countryside, mountains and ocean using the easy directions our property owner Trish had provided. 

It wasn’t easy taking photos of the countryside as we zoomed along the two lane highway, often stuck behind slower moving trucks.

As we often experience, taking photos on the shoulder-less highway with few available overlooks, it was impossible to take as many photos as we’d have liked. A portion of the drive was sunny with puffy billowy white clouds against a bright blue sky later changing to dense fog and clouds as we continued on.

We traveled through mountains with steep winding roads not unlike those in Tuscany, Italy with occasional mirrored signs used at the particularly dangerous curves.  Tom, an excellent driver, maneuvered the tricky areas with ease and from many such past experiences, I didn’t give it a thought. 

This was part of a rock formation referred to as Three Sisters.

Once we arrived in the town of New Plymouth, we followed Trish’s great directions and found the New World market.  It was the size of any huge Cub Foods or Safeway markets one could find anywhere in the US with prices about 25% less.  

Yesterday, a bit tired after the early morning wake up and long day, we’d decided to only shop for some basics with enough food to last for two days.  By 5:30 pm, we arrived at the farm, gasping with joy when we entered the house. 

Inlet at low tide.

Only a short time earlier, I’d told Tom I wasn’t expecting much assuming the aspect of it being an alpaca farm in the countryside with exquisite privacy and views was going to be the highlight.  There are always trade-offs of one sort or another, right?

Upon driving up the long private tree lined driveway, I further anticipated the “cottage” would be average or slightly less.  Entering the house, using the door’s access code, we gasped in total shock over the beautiful house and its myriad amenities we’d never anticipated or expected.  Over the next many days, we’ll share many of these. 

More unusual rock formations.

Just to give our readers an idea of the magnitude of these amenities;  there a “drawer dishwasher” in the modern well appointed kitchen along with other high quality brand name stainless steel appliances.  

There’s a refrigerator in a “bar” in the master suite with a special faucet that makes hot water on demand for making coffee and tea while still upstairs in the bedroom.  There’s are heated towel racks in both the ensuite master bath and the guest bath!  Its truly luxurious which although not expected, is actually fun and appreciated.

Zooming in as much as possible, we captured these kids checking out the rock formations at low tide.

Once we resolve the wifi issues and further settle in we’ll wait for a sunny days outdoors (less biting flies in sunshine) to spend time with the alpacas and to begin to explore this exquisite country.

We apologize for the delay in uploaded today’s post.  Photos of the house, grounds, and  adorable alpacas are coming soon!


Photo from one year ago, January 20, 2015:

The view from our veranda in Kauai never ceased to amaze us.  For more photos and details, please click here.

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